Goh Hock Chye, an elder at Bethesda (Bedok-Tampines) Church, baptised his mother last December after praying for her salvation for 34 years. All photos courtesy of Goh Hock Chye.

Goh Hock Chye, an elder at Bethesda (Bedok-Tampines) Church, baptised his mother last December after praying for her salvation for 34 years. All photos courtesy of Goh Hock Chye.

When Goh Hock Chye first became a Christian as a student in junior college, his mother would come into his room on Sunday mornings and turn off his alarm so that he would not make it in time for church.

The first time he shared the Gospel with her in Mandarin using the Four Spiritual Laws, her face fell. While she was not one to scold or yell, she bargained with him to “withdraw from this newfound belief”.

“In her mind, she had lost a son because I had received Christ and told her that I could not follow her to participate in other religious practices,” said Hock Chye, 51, now the executive director of Cru Singapore.

It seemed that she would never approve of his faith, let alone ever step into a church herself.

Yet, more than three decades later in December 2021, Hock Chye found himself standing in a Hokkien worship service with his mother – in the baptismal pool.

After accepting Christ, she had made a special request for her son, who is an elder at Bethesda (Bedok-Tampines) Church, to baptise her.

“From someone who tried to dissuade me from believing to now wanting me to baptise her – it is almost a 180-degree turn. The many years of waiting for my mum to invite Jesus into her life and for her to publicly acknowledge her faith in Jesus was all worth it,” Hock Chye told Salt&Light.

God’s part in salvation

Like many, Hock Chye knows what it is like to wait and pray for a loved one’s salvation. It took 34 years – from 1987 to 2021 – of prayer and intentionality before his mum accepted Christ and publicly declared her faith.

“The many years of waiting for my mum to invite Jesus into her life and for her to publicly acknowledge her faith in Jesus was all worth it,” said Hock Chye.

While the process can be discouraging, he encouraged believers who are trying to reach out to others: “Don’t give up hope! Don’t fail to make the turn. The light at the end may be visible after the bend.”

A loved one’s salvation comprises three parts: God’s part, our part and their part.

Sharing from his own experience, he said that a loved one’s salvation comprises three parts: God’s part, our part and their part.

It is important to first and foremost recognise God’s part in salvation, for it is ultimately He who softens people’s hearts and heals their spiritual sight.

In Romans 1:14, we see that God is already at work and preparing the ground, sending out ministering spirits to those who are to inherit salvation.

When we pray for and reach out to others, we are not doing it on our own or pleading with a God who is reluctant to save, for He is patient and does not wish that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9). 

“We need to recognise that,” said Hock Chye. “Yes, we may bring requests to God to soften our mum’s heart, our parents’ hearts, but He is already doing it.”

Our part in salvation

With this in mind, our next step would be to pray – not just to humbly ask for God to move in our loved one’s heart, but also to help us lean in to God and align ourselves with what He is doing, so that we can join Him in His work.

“God is the one who removes spiritual blindness. So when God removes it, what do they see? They see us.”

“Which part of ourselves does God want us to offer as a witness? Sometimes it’s to share with our lives, sometimes it’s to say I’m sorry,” said Hock Chye.

“God is the one who removes spiritual blindness. So when God removes it, what do they see? They see us. If we are not the salt and light we ought to be, then we need to grow,” he added.

When we pray, God will reveal to us these areas in which we need to change. He said: “Are there ways I need to forgive? To embrace? To address?”

As Hock Chye prayed for his mother, now 76, he began to see that showing love meant being more intentional about spending time with her and doing things that matter to her.

Madam Tan Lai Chew (first row, third from left) with family and friends after her baptism. “My dad was rejoicing,” said Hock Chye. His father (third from right), 81, accepted Christ in 2010 after experiencing a miraculous healing.

For example, even though he never participated in Qing Ming Jie, he decided to take leave off work every year to drive his parents where they wanted to go, as he realised that it was an important day for them to show respect to their late parents.

“Praying changes me as God moulds this messenger to bring the message to others.”

During the car rides, they would chat meaningfully and exchange stories. Hock Chye also shared with them that the Bible, too, values filial piety and asked them if he had done anything disrespectful to them as their son.

“Praying changes me as God moulds this messenger to bring the message to others,” he said.

Through prayer, Hock Chye also found himself becoming more empathetic toward his mother’s hesitance to change her life even after accepting Christ verbally 15 years ago.

“She is giving up a belief system which she has given her life to for 60, 70 years, to step into a new belief, a new worldview,” he said.

“As the eldest of seven siblings, she also feels a sense of responsibility for them. If she becomes a Christian, would they think she’s not filial anymore? Don’t love their parents anymore? It’s all very real for her.”

Their part in salvation

Nevertheless, Hock Chye admitted that he wrestled with feelings of discouragement many times during the three decades he was praying for his mum.

Sharing his struggles with his cell group members and digging into God’s Word helped to anchor him and renew his hope during such times, he said.

But at the end of the day, he realised that as human beings created by God to have free will, salvation is ultimately an individual decision that needs to be made by each person – something we must accept we cannot do for them.

“I cannot force my parents into the Kingdom. I can encourage them, share with them, but they have to make the decision,” said Hock Chye.

Salvation is ultimately an individual decision that needs to be made by each person – something we must accept we cannot do for them.

This means that there is a possibility that our loved ones will not choose Christ, he added.

“But I also think, don’t minimise those last moments where people are catching their last breaths, struggling with their lives, who are maybe in a coma too. Who knows if those who are unbelieving cry out to God in the last split second before their life is taken away?” he said.

Just as Jesus was gracious to the dying thief who with his last few breaths asked Jesus to remember him (Luke 23:40-43), God will also be gracious to those who call upon His name at their last moment.

For Hock Chye’s mum, taking her faith seriously was a step that she took in 2020, after experiencing God’s gracious provision in her life.

When she lost her job during the pandemic, Hock Chye, his wife and three daughters told her that they were praying for her.

Through a series of divine connections, she found a job that offered her a higher pay with lesser work – and good colleagues to boot.

When Hock Chye pointed out to her that this was God’s answer to their prayers, she agreed to attend church to thank God – and has gone back every week since.

Hock Chye encouraged those who are still waiting and praying for a loved one’s salvation not to give up hope.

“Hope is so important. I’ve heard stories where people don’t believe their relatives or family will ever come to know the Lord, and they did! They have a crisis, an accident, a realisation, or their good friend become believers,” he said.

“Keep growing to become the kind of person Christ wants us to be. I think that’s the best part of the witness.”


This story is part of a special series produced in collaboration with Cru Singapore, which is celebrating 50 years of God’s grace in disciple making.

Did you know that there are still approximately 7,400 ethnic people groups that are unreached? Journey together with Cru Singapore to Reach boldly, Build deeply and Send urgently.

Explore opportunities by visiting Cru Singapore’s website or following them on Instagram and Facebook.


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About the author

Gracia Lee

Gracia is a journalism graduate who thoroughly enjoys people and words. Thankfully, she gets a satisfying dose of both as a writer at Salt&Light. When she's not working, you will probably find her admiring nature or playing Monopoly Deal with her little brother.

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